Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ Waltzes to Digital June 18, Disc June 25 for Its 70th

For its upcoming 70th anniversary, Cinderella will waltz into the Walt Disney Signature Collection on digital HD (including Movies Anywhere) June 18 and Blu-ray and DVD June 25.

Recently added to the National Film Registry, the animated classic centers on kind and hardworking Cinderella, who is ordered around by her cruel stepmother and her awful stepsisters. When an invitation to the royal ball arrives, Cinderella is left at home. Just when Cinderella believes all is lost, her Fairy Godmother appears and with a wave of her wand transforms her night.

Cinderella is the ninth title to join the Walt Disney Signature Collection, which includes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Bambi, The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid.

The anniversary edition of Cinderella offers two new extras: Cinderella trivia and fun facts, hosted by Ruth Righi and Ava Kolker from Disney Channel’s “Sydney to the Max,” and “In Walt’s Words: Enhanced Edition,” a special edition of Cinderella featuring production details, original storyboards, archival photos, thumbnail sketches and transcripts throughout the feature film.

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Hours of previously released bonus materials celebrate the animation, music and impact of Cinderella, showcasing Walt Disney’s core group of animators, the art of Disney legend Mary Blair, the original demo recording of the film’s title song and Cinderella’s iconic glass slipper. They include:

  • Diane Disney Miller Cinderella film intro, in which Miller describes how Cinderella helped launch a studio renaissance;
  • “The Real Fairy Godmother,” about the real-life inspiration for the Fairy Godmother, Mary Alice O’Connor, wife of Disney layout artist Ken O’Connor;
  • “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fairyland,” showing how Imagineers created a Fantasyland at Walt Disney World featuring each of the Disney princesses; and
  • “The Magic of the Glass Slipper,” in which world-famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin creates a very exclusive “Glass Slipper” in honor of the Disney classic.

Kevin Brockman Named Global Communications Boss at WarnerMedia Entertainment

WarnerMedia Entertainment has named longtime Disney executive Kevin Brockman EVP of global communications, reporting to chairman Robert Greenblatt in New York.

Brockman will oversee all corporate and content communications initiatives worldwide across the company’s portfolio of networks and brands including HBO, Cinemax, TBS, TNT and truTV as well as the upcoming WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer streaming service.

Dee Dee Myers handles communications for Warner Bros, while Allison Gollust handles live news and sports and Oliver Herrgesell covers ad sales and distribution.

At Disney, Brockman was responsible for all worldwide communications efforts on behalf of ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ABC-owned television stations, Freeform and Disney Channels Worldwide. He also helped launch UPN (United-Paramount Network) and began his career in television at Fox.

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“With more than 20 years of communications experience at the top of the television industry, Kevin has a unique skill for overseeing multiple brands that connect audiences of all ages to the entertainment that resonates with them,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

Brockman’s new role represents WarnerMedia’s latest step toward positioning its roster of world-class creative talent, leading portfolio of brands and library of intellectual property for future growth.

In addition to his 22-year tenure at Disney, Brockman is known for his work on the board of 2NDStage, a non-profit theater group dedicated to finding new American playwrights.

He previously served for two years as chairman of TPEC, the Television Publicity Executives Committee, and recently completed an 11-year board term with GLSEN, the nation’s leading non-profit education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, especially those targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Bob Iger: Disney Prepared to ‘Pivot’ in New Direction with Hulu Ownership

Disney’s acquisition of Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu for total control of the SVOD platform is part of the Mickey Mouse company’s move toward engaging with consumers directly, CEO Bob Iger told an investor group.

The transaction also enables Disney to roll out Hulu and Disney+ internationally unfettered by possible conflicts with Comcast’s ownership of Sky and streaming service Now TV.

Speaking May 14 at the 6th Annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Iger said full control of Hulu (and Hulu with Live TV) coupled with ESPN+ and Disney+ streaming service (launching Nov. 11) would enable the company to target consumers separately through sports, TV content and movies, or collectively in a digital bundle.

“Managing your customers seamlessly across platforms, I think, has real value,” Iger said. “We have the ability to leverage the content engines in the company [Fox, FX, ABC, Disney, etc.] in a significant way here.”

For example, the executive envisions content creators such as FX and ABC producing programming for streaming on top of their pay-TV and broadcast channels.

“There’s a lot to this [internal synergies],” he said.

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Iger said his focus on direct-to-consumer distribution occurred on a “fateful” day in August 2015 when he claimed to be “rather candid” on an earnings call about the state of the pay-TV ecosystem, and ESPN in particular.

“We were seeing the disruptive effect of technology on traditional businesses,” Iger said, adding that none of the Disney business units (i.e. movies and TV shows) at the time — outside of the Disney Store and theme parks — interacted with the consumer directly.

“We decided we should be in the direct-to-consumer business,” he said, adding that theater operators, pay-TV operators, big box stores and ecommerce platforms have “known and owned” the Disney customer.

“We didn’t and we thought it was a big hole in terms of the company’s value proposition,” Iger said.

That realization prompted Disney to make an initial investment in BAMTech, which later (2017) morphed into complete ownership of the streaming tech company powering HBO Now, MLB.tv and NHL.tv, among other OTT platforms.

“Knowing essentially who [Disney’s consumers] are, we think we can create more value for the company and for them,” Iger said.

Disney Acquiring Full Stake in Hulu

As expected, Disney is acquiring Comcast’s stake in Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, a transaction that becomes effective in five years. As part of the deal, Disney assumes full voting control of Hulu immediately.

Comcast has the option to sell its 33% stake in Hulu for $27.5 billion or what the SVOD platform is appraised at in 2024, which ever is greater in value.

On last week’s fiscal call, Disney CEO Bob Iger indicated the media giant was in discussions with Comcast about acquiring the cabler’s Hulu stake.

Disney previously acquired Fox’s Hulu stake after purchasing 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Hulu separately acquired WarnerMedia’s 10% stake.

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Regardless, Disney agreed Comcast’s ownership interest in Hulu would never be less than 21% over the next five years, and that Comcast is guaranteed to receive at least $5.8 billion under the agreement.

Comcast also agreed to extend the Hulu license of NBC Universal content and the Hulu Live carriage agreement for NBC channels until late 2024 and to distribute Hulu on its Xfinity X1 platform.

NBC Universal can terminate most of its content license agreements with Hulu in three years’ time, and in one year’s time NBC will have the right to exhibit on its own OTT service certain content that it currently licenses exclusively to Hulu in return for reducing the license fee payable by Hulu.

Streaming Red: Disney’s OTT Venture Down a Fiscal Black Hole

NEWS ANALYSIS — Disney bought Marvel Studios in 2009 for $4 billion. It bought Lucasfilm (“Star Wars”) for another $4 billion three years later.

The acquisitions helped Disney reign supreme at the box office in 2018, 2017 and 2016, according to data from BoxOfficeMojo. And it has a commanding lead in 2019 thanks to Avengers: Endgame.

At the same time, the Mickey Mouse company is set to lose more than $2 billion on streaming investments — “Disney Streaming Services” (formerly BAMTech), Vice Media, ESPN+ and Hulu — before it even launches its much-ballyhooed new $6.99 monthly SVOD service Disney+ in November.

Earlier this year, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said ESPN+ is projected to lose $650 million annually through 2020. The company just wrote-off more than $300 million on its minority stake in Vice Media.

And the much-hyped Disney+ SVOD platform is not projected to become profitable until 2024 — three years after CEO Bob Iger plans to retire.

“Streaming requires a strong stomach for losses, especially as you are playing catch-up,” Rich Greenfield, analyst at BTIG Research, told CNBC earlier this year.

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Down the OTT Rabbit Hole

As Disney saw Netflix growing exponentially worldwide — much of it based on streaming movies and TV series based on Marvel intellectual property, it switched its business focus from SVOD enabler to over-the-top provider.

Indeed, Iger says OTT video is the company’s No. 1 focus in 2019, regardless of the financial hits to the bottom line.

Hulu, which Disney majority owns along with Comcast, lost $580 million in 2018, while BAMTech, the backend tech firm acquired from Major League Baseball Advanced Media in 2017, spearheaded another $470 million operating loss for the company’s new direct-to-consumer and international operating unit (which also includes home entertainment).

And the fiscal hits continue.

DTC & International lost $393 million in the most-recent fiscal quarter (ended March 31), up from $188 million loss in the previous-year period. Through the first half of the fiscal year, DTC has lost $529 million, twice as much was lost in 2018.

“We expect our direct-to-consumer businesses to have an adverse impact on the year-over-year change in segment operating income,” McCarthy said in an understatement on the May 8 fiscal call.

Disney, of course, can arguably absorb the losses. It generated a $12.5 billion profit on almost $60 billion in revenue in 2018. That was before closing the 21st Century Fox transaction, which could help Disney reach $100 billion in revenue.

At the same time, the Fox acquisition upped Disney’s long-term debt from $18 billion to about $52 billion. Disney is also expecting about $2 billion of cost synergies absorbing 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and related businesses.

Thus far, Wall Street appears supportive, contending the Disney brand has the best chance of narrowing the SVOD divide with Netflix.

“I think Wall Street is at least accepting of the fact that we’re doing this, that it’s the most important thing we’re doing,” Iger told Barron’s in January. “And while I won’t say they’re cheering us on, they’re definitely giving us the room to prove that we can do it.”

Disney Takes $353 Million Write-Down on Vice Media

Lost in the hubbub of Disney’s financials, pending SVOD service launch and Avengers: Endgame largesse: a $353 million write-down for Vice Media — the Canadian digital media company that airs programming (“Vice News Tonight”) and “Vice” on HBO and a branded Viceland channel.

Vice Media corporate partners include AMC Networks, co-founder Shane Smith and investor group TPG Capital.

It’s second fiscal write-off Disney has taken on the media property it pumped $500 million into in 2015 in an effort to target millennials and young adults with demo-specific content. It was once valued at more than $5 billion.

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The Wall Street Journal last week reported Vice had secured $250 million in debt funding from investors led by George Soros.

A Vice spokesperson told Business Insider the company remained “on target” to meet current fiscal targets.

“Our new executive team’s strategic plan is well underway and with the recent capital raise, we will continue investing in the long-term growth of our five global businesses — television, studio, digital, news and our advertising agency, Virtue,” the rep said.

‘Captain Marvel’ Soaring to Digital May 28, Disc June 11 From Disney

Captain Marvel will fly to digital in HD and 4K Ultra HD (including Movies Anywhere) May 28, and land on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray June 11 from Disney, Direct to Consumer and International.

The home release dates were revealed during the May 8 espnW Summit NYC, at which Marvel Studios hosted a Captain Marvel panel.

The film, which has surpassed $1 billion at the box office worldwide, chronicles the origin story of the female superhero.

The release includes featurettes that highlight the transformative journey of Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and her character’s impact on audiences around the globe; the influence of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) on significant events within the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the pairing of directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck; the ongoing conflict between the Skrulls and the Kree; and the talent behind the feline named Goose. Viewers also gain access to six deleted scenes, director commentary, a gag reel, and never-before-seen concept art and production photography.

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The digital release includes two exclusive features, including a behind-the-scenes visit with the visual effects team and an inside look at the team effort that goes into an action sequence in a Marvel Studios film.

At the panel, Marvel also unveiled a new trailer.

Disney CEO Bob Iger Ups Possibility of Acquiring Comcast’s Hulu Stake

Disney CEO Bob Iger May 8 confirmed the existence of discussions with Comcast about the possible acquisition of the cabler’s 33% stake in Hulu and Hulu with Live TV online platform.

Disney owns 66% of Hulu following its $71.3 billion acquisition of select 21st Century Fox assets and WarnerMedia selling its 10% ownership stake.

Speaking on the fiscal call, Iger didn’t disclose additional details except to say Disney remained mindful of its fiduciary duty to keep Comcast in the loop on Hulu activities, including global expansion and content licensing.

Disney CEO Bob Iger

“There has been dialog with Comcast about them possibly divesting their [Hulu] stake, and you can expect that if that were to occur, there would probably be some ongoing relationship as a result of [shared] programming,” Iger said, adding that any expansion of the service abroad would have to be done with Comcast’s cooperation.

“We’re bullish about Hulu for a number of reasons, but mostly because we see it as the best consumer television proposition out there,” he said.

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While Disney invests heavily in the ramp-up of subscription streaming video platform Disney+, it remains proactive about Hulu – despite the service’s ongoing fiscal drain.

Indeed, Disney “Direct-to-Consumer & International” business segment, which includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, saw revenue for the quarter increase 15% to $955 million and segment operating loss increase from $188 million to $393 million.

The increase in operating loss was due to ongoing investment in ESPN+, which was launched in April 2018, costs associated with Disney+, a loss from the consolidation of Hulu and higher losses from streaming technology services (formerly BAMTech), partially offset by an increase at International Channels.

As a result, upon the closing of the Fox transaction, Disney recorded a one-time gain of $4.9 billion as a result of remeasuring its initial 30% interest in Hulu to fair value.

 

 

 

Disney Offloads 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks to Sinclair

The Walt Disney Co. and Sinclair Broadcast Group have entered into a definitive agreement under which Sinclair is paying $9.6 billion to acquire equity stakes in 21 regional sports networks and “Fox College Sports,” which were acquired by Disney in its $71.3 billion acquisition of select 21stCentury Fox assets.

Completion of the transaction is subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice, which had mandated Disney sell the RSNs.

The RSN portfolio, which excludes the New York Yankees’ YES Network, is the largest collection of RSNs, with a footprint that includes exclusive local rights to 42 professional teams consisting of 14 Major League Baseball teams, 16 National Basketball Association teams, and 12 National Hockey League teams.

In 2018, the RSNs generated a combined $3.8 billion in revenue across 74 million subscribers.

The RSNs will be managed under wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinclair, Diamond Sports Group LLC.

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Byron Allen, CEO of Entertainment Studios and owner of The Weather Channel, is an equity and content partner in Diamond Sports Group.

Byron Allen

Sinclair’s existing sports business consists of Marquee Sports Network (a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs), Tennis Channel and Tennis Media Company (dedicated to live tennis events and tennis lifestyle), Stadium (a joint venture focused on college sports and professional highlights), Ring of Honor Wrestling (professional wrestling), and high school sports programming (with Friday Night Rivals and Thursday Night Lights).

“While consumer viewing habits have shifted, the tradition of watching live sports and news remains ingrained in our culture,” Chris Ripley, CEO of Sinclair, said in a statement. “This acquisition is an extraordinary opportunity to diversify Sinclair’s content sources and revenue streams with high-quality assets that are driving live viewing. We also see this as an opportunity to realize cross-promotional collaboration, and synergistic benefits related to programming and production.”

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Sinclair for the sale of these 21 RSNs, subject to the conditions of the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Disney CFO Christine McCarthy.

The RSNs include Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolina, Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports West, and Prime Ticket.

Home Entertainment Divisions Change Names

Two of the five major studios have quietly changed the names of their home entertainment divisions.

Paramount Pictures is once again using Paramount Home Entertainment, after several years of operating as Paramount Home Media Distribution.

And Walt Disney Studios’ home entertainment arm is now known as Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

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Originally, studios used the “home video” moniker for their home entertainment units, but then the launch of DVD shifted consumer habits away from renting video cassettes at dedicated video rental stores. Instead, consumers were buying discs — priced low for initial sale, unlike VHS cassettes — at large mass merchants and consumer electronics stores such as Walmart and Best Buy.

Soon, “home video” divisions became “home entertainment” business units, in the belief that “video” was a throwback to the old mom-and-pop video stores, which were rapidly closing up as the business shifted. Even Blockbuster Video became Blockbuster Entertainment, while trade publication Video Store Magazine in 2004 became first Home Media Retailing and then Home Media Magazine.